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Five of the Best | Francesco Totti and the 'cucchiaio'

In our second entry in the 'Five of the Best' series, we take a look at five of legendary Roma and Italy forward Francesco Totti's best chips.

The 2006 World Cup winner spent 25 seasons at Roma as a player, scoring 307 goals in 785 appearances for the Serie A side.

'Il Capitano' retired a one-club player, with former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti once claiming it would be “easier to move the Colosseum out of Rome”.

Long before Playstation gamers were using 'L1 + O' to make a fool out of opposition goalkeepers on FIFA, 'Il Re di Roma' was perfecting the 'cucchiaio' in real life.

Here are five of the most memorable chips from the five-time Italian footballer of the year's star-studded career.

 

#1: Versus Parma (1997)

The first great 'cucchiaio' (Italian for 'spoon') in Totti's long and successful career.

Imagine casually dinking a first time finish over the head of Gianluigi Buffon.

On the run.

On your weaker foot.

That is precisely what Totti accomplished in Roma's 2-2 draw with Parma at Stadio Olimpico in March 1998.

The attacker - wearing the famed number 10 jersey - was played in behind the Parma defence by a through ball, but still had it all to do as he bore down on goal.

With Buffon in no man's land, undecided whether to commit to closing Totti down or retreating to his line, Totti scooped the ball over the Italy international without breaking stride.

Buffon stuck up an arm, but had no choice but to watch helplessly as the ball nestled in the back of the net.

Magic.

“Some of his (TOTTI'S) goals against me were so wonderful that I would have been ruining a masterpiece had I managed to save them.” Gianluigi Buffon

#2: Versus Empoli (2004)

Totti scored both goals in Roma's 2-0 win over Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani in December 2003.

The Italian striker opened the scoring for the away side with a penalty in the 23rd minute, smashing his effort from 12 yards past the diving arms of Empoli goalkeeper Luca Bucci.

Totti doubled his tally in the 45th minute with a sublime strike.

Cutting inside from the left flank to evade a tackle, Totti's Roma teammate Antonio Cassano swept an excellent ball out to Totti on the right wing.

Totti, long-haired and sporting a black turtleneck under his red jersey, was the image of composure as he collected the pass.

Controlling the bouncing ball, 'Il Capitone' advanced towards the right edge of the Empoli box.

Spotting Bucci off his line, Totti curled a wonderful chip over the back-pedalling goalkeeper with the inside of his right foot.

His shot sailed over the diving goalkeeper and into the top of the net, sending a beaming Totti to the corner flag to celebrate with his teammates.

It was a trademark Totti goal; inventive, stylish and nonchalant.

Effortlessly brilliant.


#3: Versus the Netherlands (Euro 2000)

Totti has scored better chips from open play, but this panenka from the penalty spot had to make the list.

After a scoreless draw at the Amsterdam Arena, the Euro 2000 semi-final between Italy and the Netherlands went to a penalty shootout.

It was somewhat of a miracle that the Azzurri made it to penalties. They lost Gianluca Zambrotta to a red card in just the 34th minute, and conceded two spot kicks in normal time.

Luckily for Dino Zoff's Italy, Frank de Boer and Patrick Kluivert both missed their penalties.

Italy went first in the shootout itself, and made the perfect start. Luigi Di Biagio and Gianluca Pessotto both beat Edwin van der Sar from 12 yards, while De Boer and Jaap Stam both missed for the Netherlands.

Up steps Totti.

His country lead 2-0 in the shootout, and his kick could send Italy even closer to a place in the final.

Some players would have been tempted to keep it simple, or put their foot through the ball, but not the Roman. With van der Sar diving to his right, Totti chipped the ball down the middle into an empty net.

Defender Paolo Maldini missed Italy's next penalty after Kluivert had scored for the Oranje, but Italian shot stopper Francesco Toldo saved Paul Bosvelt's penalty to secure a 3-1 win for Italy.


#4: Versus Lazio (2001)

The final two goals in the list are named by Totti in his top three favourite goals, alongside his unforgettable goal against Sampdoria in 2006.

Incredibly, Roma's 5-1 demolition of Lazio in the Rome derby at Stadio Olimpico in March 2002 is most remembered for Totti's stunning chip, despite his teammate Vincenzo Montella becoming the first player in history to score four goals in the fixture.

Totti had a hand in three of the Giallorossi's first four goals in Derby dell Capitale, before adding number five with a trademark chip.

In the 72nd minute, it was Montella's turn to set up Totti, picking out the forward 30 yards from goal.

Totti steadied himself, before floating an inch-perfect, finessed chip over despairing Lazio 'keeper Angelo Peruzzi.

A mercurial artist creating another masterpiece.


#5: Versus Inter (2005)

Quite possibly the best goal in Totti's mouth-watering catalogue of beautiful strikes.

In October 2005, Totti produced a moment of sheer brilliance against Roma's rivals Inter Milan at the San Siro.

On the half hour mark, with the visitors leading the Nerazzurri 1-0 through a 12th-minute Montella goal, Totti pounced on a loose ball just inside his own half.

He rode a lunging slide tackle from Esteban Cambiasso on the halfway line, before nicking the ball away from another slide tackle from a desperate Zè Maria.

Finding himself out on the left wing, Totti dribbled inside, with Marco Materazzi for company.

A slight jink caused Materazzi to make a diving block, but the experienced Italian defender was powerless to stop Totti's magic.

The Roma striker, spotting goalkeeper Julio Cesar off his line, chipped the ball over the Brazil international from 25 yards.

“In those moments, all sorts of things spark up inside you: skill, luck... everything that goes through a player's mind in a single second," he later told Sky Sports.

“After a long run, I won a rebound in midfield and a sprint against [Marco] Materazzi. I saw Julio Cesar off his line and instinctively I did the hardest thing: lobbing the goalkeeper from outside the box.

“Fortunately it went where I wanted.”

Totti would then score again in the second half, before a brace from Inter striker Adriano.

Roma held on to win 3-2.


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